Thursday, February 12, 2009

More truth in poetry than in news stories ....

Politicians & reporters. Do not trust either.

How many times have you voted for a candidate for political government office because you had "trust" in the person? I never have.

Perhaps that goes back to cynicism. Most certainly, it goes to the role and responsibility of journalists. Journalists are (at least, once were) trained to be skeptics, doubters, investigators, fact seekers and objective to the best of their abilities. It is very obvious some journalists are better at these things than others.

Television reporting, by-in-large, is pretty pathetic. Many newspaper reporters are more suited for producing fiction than for pursuing the facts. This has never been truer than it is today. Over here, for example, stands a Republican candidate. Over there, stands a Democrat candidate. Each is presenting his political point of view. Inside that view are personal beliefs, personal ambitions, dollars and cents, pressures from constituents, arguments from lobbyists and friends, and a host of other elements. Between them stands the reporter. How can the average citizen learn which candidate is telling the "truth" and is being "honest" when the reporter has abandoned traditional journalistic precepts and is allowing his personal feelings to enter the story?

Journalists and politicians must maintain an adversarial role, I believe. That does not mean the relationship cannot be friendly, cordial and polite, and even have a sort of friendship exist between individuals in the two camps. It does mean that the journalist and the politician both need to understand it is a reporter's obligation to check the facts behind every word that comes out of a politician's mouth. Increasingly, this no longer is the case. Increasingly, fewer facts are emerging from the spin. Increasingly, there is no one left to trust. Increasingly, people have no choice but to follow candidates blindly.

Returning to the beginning of this commentary: I never have voted for a candidate because I "trust" the person. I vote for the individual who I think is best suited for the task at hand in terms of the conditions that exist at that particular point in time, and this is becoming a more difficult task with every election due to the disintegration of American journalism.

Discovering Emily & rescuing Percy's heart ….

I have no idea how many people browse the "world of blogs," either idly or in a pattern searching for common interests, but it really is a fascinating pastime. My brief periods of exploration the past few days have centered on poetry.

A few sites I have visited are primarily dedicated to one or more well-known poets. The other day, for example, I found one where Emily Dickinson was featured. There was a photo of Ms. Dickinson. Although one of my majors was English, I do not recall off hand ever seeing a photo of her before.

The lead poem on the page was this:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

Where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

The simplicity, yet the depth of those few words, is breathtaking. I think I have gained a new and greater appreciation for Ms. Dickinson through my exploration of the blogs.

My own studies of verse have revolved mostly around the British poets of the 19th Century. Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Coleridge and their brethren, to name a few. English major snobbery, I suppose.

The only recent American poet I ever took a close look at was James Dickey, and only then because I consider his novel, "Deliverance," to be a classic -- a heroic tale told in contemporary style and language. Besides that, it is about canoeing and the "Zen of archery."

Speaking of novels and British poets, may I recommend another of my favorites? It is, "The Missolonghi Manuscript," by Frederic Prokosch. Lord Byron spent the last few months of his life in Missolonghi in Greece, where he died at the age of 36 in 1824. This novel is presented as if it were the memoirs of the dying man, written as he reviews his entire life. Byron, in addition to being an author of the first order, literally was the Sean Connery/Jim Morrison/Brad Pitt of his time. Among the ingredients of the novel is an account of the death by drowning of Percy Shelley, his funeral pyre and the snatching of his heart from the flames as a macabre memento. Something for everyone.

Music Note: Listening to The Doors ....
Specifically, “Absolutely Live” ....
(Another California connection, featuring the Byron of his time)


Natalie said...

Dear Sir,
Last night I sent you a link to the Zeitgeist Addendum movie. I don’t know if you watched it or not but in today’s posting you discussed some issues which were raised in that movie, i.e. journalists trained to be skeptics and voting for a candidate one could "trust"… I agree with you and appreciate your position. I vote for “lesser evil”, “trust” never comes across my mind during the election…

Fram said...

Hi, Natalie ....

There are a number of addendums at the site, and I was unable to sort through the maze to learn which one you were referring to specifically. Also, I do not use a high speed system, so downloading lengthy material such as a movie really does not work for me. I have owned a personal computer for years, but long ago quit trying to keep pace with all the technological advances. For me, the computer essentially is a tool for writing and for storing written words.

Anyway, never having seen the original movie, I did look up some background information on it, and would have opinions on the theory it puts forward. In a nutshell, I know for a fact there are obvious elements of truth present, both historically and contemporary, but the notion as presented is vastly overly inflated and exaggerated.

By the way, my own opinion about politicians is that most are like salesmen (and most are like would-be boyfriends, too?); they tell you what they think you want to hear rather than what they actually think.

Something special ....